Don’t tease the users

I’m certainly not the first person to point out that iTunes 11 is… less than perfect. With so many features and management tasks crammed into one app, trying to refine and simplify it must be a nightmare.

But the lack of polish is a bit surprising given how much emphasis Apple usually places on it.

Example 1: Empty Gallery

iTunes 11 now features artist galleries – a nice feature that gives your music some context. However the number of artists that have galleries doesn’t seem to be particularly large, so more often than not clicking the button will take you to this error view:


If it’s empty, why even show the button?

It should be fairly easy to check whether an artist has a gallery before revealing that particular button in the UI. At the moment, this feature has a strong negative feedback loop that discourages using it – “Click here to be disappointed“!

Example 2: New (old) iPhone

iTunes is still the fastest way to get a large amount of music onto an iOS device, so many users will sync their shiny new iPhone with it right away.

I recently wiped one of our old iPhone 4S test devices and plugged it into my Mac, prompting iTunes to show a ‘Welcome to your new iPhone’ screen – just like it would if I had come home from the store with a new iPhone 4S.

Except that it didn’t show me the iPhone 4S (which Apple still sells for €579), it showed the newer iPhone 5, immediately reminding a new customer that they haven’t got the very best.


It’s never a good idea to make customers doubt or second-guess a purchasing decision, so teasing the user with the newer, more expensive device when they’ve just spent a lot of money getting your second best phone is… awkward. In the past, Apple has always put in the extra work to make sure their on-screen icons and images match the device in your hand. This seems like an oversight or bug rather than a deliberate decision.

These are only tiny details, but somebody taught us they matter.